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Judging The Boxer

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Judging the Boxer like any other dog requires observing the overall dog when it comes in the ring.  The standard says “…first consideration should be given to general appearance to which attractive color and arresting style contribute…. Next is overall balance with special attention devoted to the head    You hope  as they come in the ring and on the go around that one or more are going to standout and if they do that they will pass closer inspection.


The Boxer like most breeds must be in balance, this can sometimes be trouble when dealing with the Boxer head in relationship to the body.  Many times a tall dog with a lighter head will be attractive and eye catching with it’s great elegance.  However we must remember the standard states “The ideal Boxer is a medium-sized square built dog of good substance with short back, strong limbs and a short tight fitting coat” and “The brisket is deep, reaching down to the elbows; the depth of the body at the lowest point equals half the height of the dog at the withers”. The dog with longer legs may look more stylish, but may not be correct. A great part of the standard is taken up with a description of the head and the head should be in balance with the body.  I first look for a good expression, I don’t expect a dog with an ugly somber expression to win. Next if the expression is pleasing, does it have a good head?  The beauty of the head depends upon the harmonious proportion of the muzzle to the skull”. The chin should be perceptible from the side as well as the front view.  If the expression is good and the head in proportion, you will usually have a good dark brown eye and proper ear set.  Many Judges forget or don’t know that the Boxer nose should be slightly turned up. A quick look from the side will confirm the slightly higher nose as well as the proper meeting of the lips.  Again  a good head seems to go along with good expression.  The opposite problem is the dog who seems to fit the standard description of the head, but has too much of everything…too wide a muzzle, too wide a skull, too short a muzzle. This type almost always is too cheeky with too much turn up of nose, and has an over built body.  We don’t see many of this type today.


We must keep in mind the purpose of the breed, a guard, working and escort dog. The Boxer must combine elegance with substance and have power with speed and dexterity. If he were a prize fighter, he would be a classic middle weight.  The Boxer must be medium sized strong dog and very agile.


The body must be in balance with the head, look for a good topline and a square dog. Most Boxers will show a good topline while posed, sometimes with an excessive slope from the withers, but the truth of the topline will show when moving.  The standard asks for front reach and powerful rear drive. Many times a dog that is good coming and going is straight both in shoulder and angulation and it’s only in side movement we discover he has no reach or drive.


As to size of the Boxer, the standard states “adult males 23”to 25”, females 21” to 23-1/2 at the withers, males should not go under the minimum nor females over the maximum”. This allows the judge to put up 26” males if she or he feels it is the superior animal, but it also makes a 22-1/2” male within the standard. While this gives the Judge a lot of leeway, we should remind ourselves a Boxer too big or too small should be an excellent specimen to win.


Coat is very seldom a problem in this breed, however color sometimes causes Judges to pause.  A seal or black (reverse) brindle, sometimes makes it hard to find any fawn striping. Several years ago the standard was revised to eliminate the problem, however some of the reverse brindles are so dark as to cause a question in some judge’s minds. Without getting more complicated let me say that in almost 40 years in the breed I have never seen a black Boxer.  Some people have reported seeing one and Frau Stockmann (the mother of the breed in Germany) mentions black Boxers in her book. I would expect a close inspection of any suspects today would reveal a very small fawn strip somewhere. As to white markings they may not exceed 1/3 of the total color and are not desirable on the back or torso proper. “On the face, white may replace a part of the otherwise essential black mask and may extend in an upward path between the eyes, but it must not be excessive, so as to distract from true Boxer expression”.  Remember white may replace, but it is not necessary, a solid black mask with no white is permissible and many times more attractive. The so called plain Boxer (one with very little white anywhere) is also acceptable and preferred by many breeders.


As of March 2005 the following has been added

Ears: Set at the highest points of the sides of the skull, the ears are customarily cropped, cut rather long and tapering, and raised when alert. If uncropped, the ears should be of moderate size, thin, lying flat and close to the cheeks in repose, but falling forward with a definite crease when alert


Disqualifications: “Boxers that are any color other than fawn or brindle. Boxers with a total of white markings exceeding one-third of the entire coat.”


The character and temperament of the Boxer is best described by the standard:

These are of paramount importance in the Boxer. Instinctively a “hearing” guard dog, his bearing is alert, dignified and self-assured. In the show ring, his behavior should exhibit constrained animation.”


When judging the Boxer look for the good points of the dogs, look at the whole dog let your eye tell you which is best, do not nit-pick, you might eliminate the best animal if you do.


The boxer is a wonderful breed and the future of the breed depends upon the breeders and the judges who reward their efforts.



John T. Connolly


American Boxer Club 

*Article kindly provided for the Web Site of the Azteca Boxer Club A.C. by  Mr. John T. Connolly prestigious Judge and President of The American Boxer  Club.

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